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Ray
Ray, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years in civil, probate, real estate, elder law
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My wife tripped and broke her arm while exiting Summerfest

Customer Question

My wife tripped and broke her arm while exiting Summerfest (i.e. through a poorly lit passageway to reach Milw. Meto. buses for a park & ride trip). I took a picture of the location & object she tripped over (a metal footing - connected to a divider to direct foot-traffic - along side the busy/crowded passageway), although it was dark & I used a cheap cell phone to take the picture, so the picture isn't great. … A piece of wood is also shown in the divider (possibly a 'marker' to indicate the upturned metal footing). MY QUESTION:What are the Wisconsin laws regarding safe - obstruction free - passage-ways in public facilities such as this, that may have been violated in this case?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.
Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today. I am so sorry that she was injured and only now the suit has been filed. She would be would be an invitee, and this falls under Wisconsin negligence laws.For a typical Wisconsin personal injury accident, the Statute of Limitations is 3 years, meaning an injury victims has 3 years from the date of accident to settle their claim or file a lawsuit. See Section 893.54 Wisconsin Statutes. Under Wisconsin law in order to successfully bring a claim for personal injury, you have to first establish who was at fault for causing her injuries. Wisconsin law requires application of comparative negligence in determining who was at fault for causing her injuries.To understand comparative negligence, we must first look at negligence itself. Negligence is defined in the Wisconsin as follows: A person is negligent when [he or she] fails to exercise ordinary care. Ordinary care is the care which a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances. A person is not using ordinary care and is negligent, if the person, without intending to do harm, does something (or fails to do something) that a reasonable person would recognize as creating an unreasonable risk of injury or damage to a person or property.WIS JI-CIVIL 1005 Negligence: Defined. A very basic example of negligence in an automobile accident is failing to stop for a red light. A driver who fails to stop for a red light is not using ordinary care. It most likely is not that driver’s intention to cause harm to another person, but by failing to stop at the red light, that driver may indeed cause a collision with another vehicle resulting in harm to the driver and/or passengers of that other vehicle. A determination of who was at fault for the accident doesn’t stop here, though.In Wisconsin, you have to determine the fault of all of the parties involved. Again, the Wisconsin Civil Jury Instructions provides the following as pertains to comparative negligence:Every person in all situations has a duty to exercise ordinary care for his or her own safety. This does not mean that a person is required at all hazards to avoid injury; a person must, however, exercise ordinary case to take precautions to avoid injury to himself or herself.WIS JI-CIVIL 1007 Contributory Negligence: Defined. Using the example above, if Driver A runs the red light, Driver B might also share some of the blame, or be comparatively negligent. The facts and circumstances of each individual accident would have to be examined to determine if Driver B was able to avoid the accident. Could Driver B have hit the brakes or swerved his or her vehicle to avoid the collision? If Driver B was stopped at a red light just before it turned green, did Driver B look to make sure traffic was clear before entering the intersection? If Driver B was in motion when his or her light turned green, was driver B traveling at a safe and reasonable speed leading up to and through the intersection? These are just some of the examples of the issues that would be examined in determining whether Driver B shared any negligence with Driver A, and if so how much blame to assess to either driver.In Wisconsin, application of the comparative negligence statute determines at what rate, if any, you can recover for your personal injuries against another party.[Comparative] negligence does not bar recovery in an action by any person or the person’s legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if that negligence was not greater than the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the person recovering. The negligence of the plaintiff shall be measured separately against the negligence of each person found to be causally negligent. Wis. Stats. s. 895.045(1). Getting back to our above example, if after examining all the facts of the accident it is decided that Driver A was 80% at fault for the collision and Driver B was 20% at fault for the collision, and that Driver B’s injuries have a full value of $10,000.00, Driver B would only be able to recover 80% of that sum, or $8,000.00, because Driver B is not able to recover for the 20% of the damages that he or she was determined to have caused. Remember, if Driver B is 51% at fault or more, Driver B does not recover anything. So here in your situation if your wife was 20% negligent it reduces the value of her total damages by 20%.She would get an 80% recovery for the injuries in the passageway.So here your lawyer will need some expert to assess what a reasonable expectation would be for safety and lighting and how they were deficient and how this was negligent and a potential hazard to the public and her. I appreciate the chance to help you today and wish her the best here.
Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.
As long as the defendant was at least 51% negligent she would recover and get what her damages are that are proven less any contributory negligence as I set out above. Thanks again.